Saturday, April 20, 2024

Experience the Magic and Tradition of Venice in the Cays with The Gondola Company

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… that’s amore,” Dean Martin said it best in his 1953 hit, but everyone has a chance to capture the romance he described. Ciao!

Did you know you don’t have to go to Venice to experience riding in a gondola? Nor do you need to go Las Vegas, Napa Valley, or San Marcos. We have one in our own backyard. The Gondola Company, locally owned and situated in the heart of Coronado Cays can be found at 503 Grand Caribe Causeway. If you haven’t tried it out, it is a slice of heaven just blocks from the Coronado Cays Yacht Club.

From now through March, we get what I call “Sunset/Sunrise Season” where the San Diego sky is colorfully dramatic during the early evening hours before the moon sets and then again early in the wee hours of the morning, as the sun climbs the Laguna Mountains to our east. Sometimes the sky looks like it’s ablaze with fiery yellows, oranges, and even reds. Sunset often looks good enough to eat with its cotton candy hues and swirling vistas. What better way to experience this time of year than riding in a gondola and listening to sweet Italian music while sipping wine and snacking on charcuterie?

The gondolier will serenade you, your friends, special someone, or even your pet at no extra fee! Yes, the company is pet friendly so long as your pet is well-behaved, and your fur baby doesn’t make a mess during the ride. With the holidays coming up, now is the perfect time to gift someone this experience. The company is currently running a 20% discount special on gift certificates on their Facebook page, now through Nov. 26.
Recently I had the pleasure of riding in their 13-person boat, the Caorlina cruise, with three of my friends and two other families. The San Diego Navy Community Recreation office had offered a highly discounted rate for both active and retired military families. We got four tickets for the sunset event, which included a 50-minute ride plus some chocolates and a bottle of wine, or juice boxes for kids. We opted not to get the charcuterie board the company offered for an additional $30 for two since we were planning dinner at the Cays Yacht Club afterwards. Cays residents who live or walk along the canals often see the gondolas from their window or while strolling the sidewalks in the neighborhood. It’s fun to follow them around on a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) too. But the magic of riding in a gondola around the Cays was not lost on me and it makes for a nice break from the hustle and bustle.

The Gondola Company was founded by Sean Jamieson and has been around since 1998. It opened its doors as one of the concession services for Coronado Loews Resort. A few years later, Sean moved its location to where it is today. With more docking space, he was able to add more boats to his fleet. His passion to start a gondola company was born from his many trips to Venice. He went annually with a group to a regatta they call ‘Vogalonga,’ a non-competitive 30 km rowing race held in the spring to bring awareness to the fragility of the lagoon ecosystem.

Sean takes pride in the fact that all his gondolas are made of wood and authentic, built in the same fashion as the ones used in Venice at about $75,000 each. All his gondoliers receive about 20 to 40 hours of training, a good thing since some of the narrow canals in the Cays are tricky to maneuver with a 37-foot-long gondola and an oar. For more information about the company and how to enjoy this cruise around the Cays’ canals, visit They can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. Divertitevi!



Elsie Hammond
Elsie Hammond
Elsie is a stay-at-home mom with an MBA, managing two kids, a husband, and a mini-Aussie. She moved to Coronado Cays in 2012 with her family by way of US Navy. She has lived in the Philippines, Japan, and Hong Kong and several states in the good old USA. Elsie enjoys traveling, hiking, golfing, skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), and playing tennis. She also likes taking pictures with her iPhone and posting about them on her personal social media pages. She was a monthly contributor to Cays Living Magazine and has had several of her photos and stories published in various magazines and newspapers. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

More Local News